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Bankruptcy judge OKs purchase of historic Mountain Lodge

Carved column capitals are part of the historic architecture of the 186-year-old Mountain Lodge in Flat Rock.. Carved column capitals are part of the historic architecture of the 186-year-old Mountain Lodge in Flat Rock..

FLAT ROCK — Historic Flat Rock expects to close July 11 on the purchase of the historic Mountain Lodge after a bankruptcy judge approved its offer of $550,000 last month.


"We're going to stabilize it and offer it for sale to somebody who wants to restore it," HFR President Rick Merrill said. "We've actually got a conversation going with a prospective buyer and there may be more that come along."
Merrill estimates clearing the property and stabilizing the house will cost around $125,000 and take the rest of the summer. The prospective buyer wants to buy the property and live in it during the summer, posting a caretaker in cottage on the property.
"The couple that's looking at it is from out of town," Merrill said. "They have deep roots in this community and in Flat Rock so it's a good fit."
MountainLodgeHistoric Flat Rock expects to close on purchase of the historic Mountain Lodge on July 11.Built around 1827, the home is one of the most significant examples of the movement of wealthy Charleston, S.C., landowners and business people into Flat Rock for summer homes. The Barings built Mountain Lodge in an English style that included servants' quarters, a kitchen house, gatekeeper's cottage, a deer park and a chapel. The first chapel burned and was replaced by the present day St. John in the Wilderness. Susan Baring died in 1845, leaving Mountain Lodge and 3,050 surrounding acres to her fifth husband.
William Maxwell Gregg II bought the property in 1995 for $1.05 million and since then it has stood neglected and declined steadily into a state of disrepair. In a bankruptcy filing, Gregg, of Columbia, S.C., listed assets of $389 million against $13 million in debt.
Although the property has an appraised value of $1.45 million, cost of repairs to make it habitable exceed $850,000, bankruptcy trustee R. William Metzger Jr. said in a court filing that recommended the sale. Historic Flat Rock submitted the offer of $550,000 from a revolving fund it uses to save, stabilize and resell endangered historic properties.
Although Gregg objected to the sale price as too low, the bank trustee and the holder of a $1.22 million mortgage on the property endorsed it.
"The judge felt it needed to be stabilized and in good hands and he (Gregg) just doesn't have the money to do it," Merrill said.
Besides the 7,000-square-foot antebellum home, the 23-acre property includes a separate billiard room, a stone springhouse and a smaller cottage sitting in an overgrown field visible from Rutledge Drive.
"The key element of Historic Flat Rock acquiring the property at all is to make sure that it's restored in a way that's fitting and appropriate," Merrill said. "A preservation agreement will go on it to make sure it's changed or modified over the years and to ensure it preserves the historic character. That'll be a permanent agreement of sale that stays there in perpetuity. We hold 18 of those now in Flat Rock on historic properties and this will be our 19th."